As a certain semi-famous (and one of my personal favorite) songs once stated, “we must accept certain inalienable truths.”  The United States isn’t going through a recession or trying to come back from a few setbacks, it’s dying.  America has beaten the stone for the last time and no more lucky strikes are coming our way.  We’ve coughed and wheezed our way through the last 20 or so years with false promises and “light at the end of the tunnel” hopes, only to face the reality that the cancer has spread so deeply into America’s heartland, nothing short of a miracle will cure our afflictions. 

The “Y” generation, my generation, is screwed (‘scuse my French).  We were never born with a silver spoon in our mouths.  Instead, we were told to get up and feed ourselves, walk on our own two feet before the world can crush us.  We were forced to grow up fast, firm in the realization that our “youthful” years would be spent pursuing endless amounts of education in order to put us in the running for jobs that don’t exist.  These careers will burn us out with being overworked, underpaid, and unhappy for the prospect of never being able to retire because by that time our 401K’s and social security checks will never be able to support the most basic costs of living.  It’s a race against ourselves and against the person on your left and right, who in a different time you might have been friends with, but now it’s a desperate fight to the death for a little more food on the table and the ever-present desire to get far enough ahead of the rest of the world so that we can slow down on our own time.

We are scared, worried, exhausted, and years too young to qualify for a mid-life crisis.

We are a generation born into nation that is hitting a wall.  We grew up with harsh realities and doomed expectations.  We are finding every avenue of life a deadly intersection and the fight for the crosswalk is more like a free for all than a desired stroll. 

Who are we?

We are strong.  We are the generation where whatever doesn’t kill us helps to make us stronger, more ready for the next battle.  We are painfully aware, but conscious of our burden to struggle through, perhaps prevail, and maybe leave a little less damage in our wake than our predecessors. 

We are angry.  To not be given a choice over the outcome of our own lives, to have the idea of a life of our own choosing wiped away with fewer chances of the life we deserve than winning the lottery. 

We want change, but we are annoyed that we’ve been told since we were able to listen that “it’s our job to fix it” and yet we can barely manage to keep our own heads afloat.  The natural environment should be the least of our concerns if we can’t even figure out how to keep our social and political environments from spinning out of control.

We are also inspired.  The past has provided many role models for our future, but I think more importantly it has given us plenty of faces and theories of who we don’t want to become and will ever continue avoid being.

We are no less special, no more of a lost cause, and not altogether unable to enact change and find our own ways of getting joy out of life.  We are a generation with very different ideas about faith and belief.  It leaves vulnerable in some senses, and more open to the world around us in others.  Whether it’s a good thing or not, I think that most of us have come to the conclusion that life is what we make, this is the one that matters, and we need to make the best out of a bad situation.  I’m not leaving this world in the clutches of a diseased economy and I will do whatever it takes to live a life that reflects my own ideals. 

I am who I am. 

I am scared, strong, weary, thoughtful, frustrated, loved, cautious, funny, clumsy, beautiful, awkward, and aiming to please.  I am all of these things and so much more, but I am myself.

Sometimes it feels as though I am the worst version of myself that I could be, claustrophobic in my inability to escape the confines of my own reality, but it depends on the day.  One step, one day at a time, I am finding my way and trying to outrun my future. 

We are us.  Deal with it.